I braced myself and entered the room at the nursing home. I wanted to visit my friend, but the grumpy woman in the other bed cranked the TV full volume. Hoping to at least block the noise from the hallway, I closed the door to the room. Grumpy roommate bolted from the bed, threw open the door, and scowled at me as she jerked the privacy curtain between the beds.
When I arrived for my next visit, the grumpy woman tripped and fell in the hall. Her arm was hurt and a red knot swelled on her forehead. While the staff tended to her, I went to see my friend. For the first time, I paid attention to the pictures on the roommate’s wall.
God helped me see this woman with fresh eyes. Long ago her mother nestled her in a soft baby blanket while her proud father announced her name. As a teenager she caught the eye of a young man, married, and had children. She watched her kids leave home and bring back grandchildren. I realized I never saw anyone visit this woman. Maybe her family lived far away. Perhaps they lived in the area but rarely came by. No wonder she acted grumpy.
I couldn’t change her situation or her behavior, but I could change my attitude. I could learn her name and speak to her when I visited. I could ask if she’d like me to bring her a magazine or a book. In the future, I could ask permission before I closed the door. Being kind and respectful didn’t change her, but it did change me.
When a relationship is thorny, ask Jesus for the grace to look beyond the external to the internal. The Lord will help you see the other person as He does.
(Photo courtesy of morguefile.com and gracey.)